Ancient Irish Law

‘Irish law is the oldest, most original, and most extensive of mediaeval European legal systems. It is a unique legal inheritance, an independent indigenous system of advanced jurisprudence that was fully evolved by the eighth century. It is also far less well-known than it deserves.’ ‘Early medieval Ireland evolved a system of law (often called […]

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Bechbretha | Brehon Law on Beekeeping

In ancient Ireland, beekeeping was so important that there was a complete list of laws dedicated to beekeeping, called  ‘Bechbretha’, during the time of our Brehon laws. In the seventh century AD the laws were written down for the first time. Brehon law was administered by Brehons, or ‘brithem’ derived from the Irish ‘breitheamh’ meaning […]

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Ancient Irish (Brehon) Law and Divorce

In early Celtic Ireland, grounds for divorce included sexual impotence due to gross obesity, telling tales about your love life, or being a thief. There was also a virgin-price that guaranteed the wife’s purity. It’s also interesting to note that if two people of unequal rank wanted to marry, the person of lower rank was […]

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Brehon Laws: Children and the status Women in early Ireland

Prior to the Anglo-Norman invasions Ireland was home to between 80-140 independent petty kingdoms called túatha. A person’s idea of nationhood was local to their home túath and kin-group (fine). Each túath had its king elected from among its noble grades, each had their own customs and traditions, styles of dress, particular songs and legends […]

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Brehon Law: The Senchus Mór

The Senchus Mór, is the foundation text of the most sophisticated law tradition in Europe of a thousand years ago. The body of law as a whole is often called “Brehon Law” but is properly called Fenechus, which means “that which relates to the Feine” the free classes that formed the main body of Irish […]

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Brehon Law: The Troscad

A method of exerting authority, available to all members of Celtic society, was the ritual fast, the troscad. As a legal form of redressing a grievance, this act emerged in the Brehon law system. That it was an ancient ritual can be demonstrated by the fact that it bears almost complete resemblance to the ancient […]

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Brehon Laws and the Establishment of Copyrights

Copyright law actually began with the Brehon Laws of Ancient Ireland over 1000 years before it appeared in English legislation. It started and ended in a bitter and brutal dispute over royalties. The dispute arose in 563 AD between two of the top contributors in the monastic schools of Ireland: Saint Colmcille and Saint Finian, […]

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Marriage and Brehon Law in Ancient Ireland

Irish history is immersed in centuries of oppression that was particularly harsh in respect to the Catholic religion. The late 17th and 18th century Penal Laws prevented priests from celebrating mass never mind conducting the sacrament of marriage. If a priest was caught, sanctions were quite severe, in fact, punishable by death. The last of […]

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Brehon Law: Celtic Triads

In Celtic culture, the people were governed by civil law. The old Brehon Law of Ireland is still extant. Even Kings and Queens were subject to the Law; in fact, they ruled only by the will of the People. The people could both vote them in, and vote them out. Men and women both enjoyed […]

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The Uilleann Pipes

The importance of piping during the years of the Irish chieftains is evident in the 9th century representation of a piper on the great stone High Cross of Clanmacnoise in Co Offaly. This seat of Irish culture in Clanmacnoise fostered the great ancient school there which at its height involved six to seven thousand students. […]

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